14 ways to travel the world without leaving your sofa
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Have you been stuck inside for weeks? Us too.
Though some destinations are cautiously lifting travel restrictions and people are learning to navigate a new version of normal, it’s safe to say this Memorial Day weekend — typically one of the biggest weekends for travel of the year — will look a little different.
If you’re staying home this holiday weekend, it’s a great time to start planning your next real-life adventure. And, in the meantime, we rounded up some of our favorite ways to travel the world without leaving the comfort of your home. So, break out your comfiest sweats and buckle up for your next virtual trip.
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Celebrate summer at Stonehenge
Stonehenge boasts some of the most popular summer solstice celebrations on Earth, a magical event you’ll just have to see to believe. And while you probably won’t be able to visit in person this year, the show must still go on.
You’ll be able to livestream the summer solstice at Stonehenge this summer. Just tune in to the English Heritage Facebook account, where they’ll be broadcasting the sunset on June 20 at 9:26 p.m. BST and sunrise on June 21 at 4:52 a.m. BST. They’ll be live for at least 30 minutes before sunrise and sunset — and no matter where you are in the world, you can join in on the fun.
Discover a museum
Iconic museums from the Guggenheim in New York City to the Louvre in Paris are available through Google Arts & Culture, a platform that allows you to take digital tours of some of the world’s most famous museums. You can browse through all the available museums, and even see some of the most famous pieces of art up close. Historic sites, such as the Palace of Versailles, are also available to tour through Google. The best part? Access is 100% free.
If you want something that sparks your inner child (or keeps your actual children occupied), you’re in luck. The Children’s Museum of Houston is sharing do-it-yourself experiments, as well as activities and behind-the-scenes exhibit content on YouTube, Instagram and Twitter. You can make a cardboard kazoo, listen to story time and even learn about how the water cycle works. This is a surefire way to pass the time if you’ve found yourself suddenly homeschooling your kids.
Take a cooking class
Is there anything better than having a home-cooked meal from an Italian grandma? We don’t think so. While Italy will start to reopen to tourists in early June, you can still get your fix of some incredible Italian cooking before your next trip there, whenever it may be.
Nonna Nerina, an 84-year-old Italian grandmother in Palombara Sabina, Italy, has set up a virtual cooking class on Airbnb Experiences. Here, she’ll virtually teach you how to make Italian classics such as ravioli, gnocchi and fettuccine. Just note that she only teaches classes on weekends; the weekday classes are taught by her granddaughter. Plus, if you enter your email, you can get 25% off the class for a limited time. Better yet, the classes are on sale, too. For example, her class usually costs $100 but is just $60 right now.
Go on a ride at Disney
The magic isn’t over just because most Disney parks remain closed. You can stream virtual Disney rides from parks around the world, from Florida to France, in the comfort of your own home. How’s that for a bargain on a Disney vacation?
Explore parks and attractions
Take a trip to the great outdoors from, well, indoors. You can virtually explore national parks and famous attractions around the country, all courtesy of Google Arts & Culture. Think: the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park and Alcatraz Island. Better yet, they’re all accessible for free and you won’t have to wait in a single line.
Google Earth can even help you enjoy the cherry blossom blooms around the world, though the season has passed. From the Meguro River Cherry Blossoms Promenade in Tokyo to the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., there’s something for everyone here. You could easily spend hours taking virtual tours.
Visit a botanic garden
A handful of botanic gardens around the country are also offering virtual tours for travelers to enjoy. The indoor conservatory at the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., for example, is temporarily closed to the public. In the meantime, though, you can take a virtual tour of the gardens and soak in all of the beautiful scenery.
Join an art class
A handful of universities are hosting free, virtual art classes, according to Artsy, and many have a global perspective. You can study the history of Japan through images or discover ancient Egyptian art and antiquities. You know what they say: If you can’t travel, you might as well spend a few hours every week looking at pictures of places you wish you were. Right?
Listen to live music
Did coronavirus derail your plans to travel to a major musical event like South by Southwest (SXSW), the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival or Coachella?
Fortunately, a number of bands and musicians are performing “couch tours,” as many of their concerts were canceled. Acording to NPR, travelers can also catch live, virtual jazz performances, electronic festivals, classical concerts and more.
Instead of watching the annual National Memory Day Concert from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, for example, you can catch the event (and a performance from the National Symphony Orchestra) online at 8 p.m. Billboard also highlighted concerts by the Dropkick Murphys (performing to an empty Fenway Park on May 29 at 6 p.m.), and a livestream performance by David Guetta from New York on May 30 at 7 p.m.
Watch a movie
Give yourself a much-needed break from all the craziness out there and curl up on the sofa with one of these feel-good and wanderlust-worthy films this weekend. Some of our top picks include “Eat, Pray, Love” and “Mamma Mia” — but there are plenty of classic flicks and television series to choose from.
Anthony Bourdain’s famous documentary, “Parts Unknown,” is coming back to Netflix on June 1. The only catch? It will only be available in the U.K. and Ireland. Here’s hoping it’s a good sign, though, and will be available to stream in the U.S. and rest of the world soon.
Live like a royal for the day
Put on your crown and get ready to take a virtual tour of Buckingham Palace. You can take a peek at the Throne Room, Grand Staircase, White Drawing Room and more. The entire palace isn’t up for viewing, but it’s certainly enough to keep you occupied for hours.
Take a trip to the beach
In need of some sunlight and vitamin D? Enjoy the sun and sand in St. Lucia. All you have to do is go to @TravelSaintLucia‘s Instagram Live to take part. Every Tuesday and Thursday, they go live and show off things like the island’s beautiful sunsets, rainforests and more. You might be so inspired, you book a trip there when the island nation reopens to Americans on June 4.
Another option? The beautiful island of Bermuda is also hosting a daily livestream. Put on some Jimmy Buffet, make yourself a piña colada and enjoy your makeshift beach day.
Learn a magic trick
Airbnb recently began offering virtual “travel” experiences, so you can book online activities from around the world right at home.
For just $20, you can take a magic class with Martin, a Guinness World Record-holding magician based in Berkhamsted, U.K. His class will show you magic tricks you can perform with everyday objects, such as playing cards, phones, rings, money, sweets and even fire. Prepare for some mind-reading, too, as well as the psychology that turns a trick into magic. The class is an hour and a half long, and availability is open through the end of June.
Make Portuguese tapas
Another Airbnb Experience that’s sure to please? This Portuguese tapas class. You’ll learn how to make popular dishes such as tuna paté and açorda alentejana — and of course, plenty of sangria. The host, Joana, spent 10 years teaching hotel management before opening her own restaurant in Lisbon. The class costs $17 per person and is available through September.
Hang out with wild animals
OK, so you might not be hanging out with real penguins in real life. But for only $12, you can spend an hour learning about the history of African penguins, as well as some little-known facts and insights. You can even build your own penguins from items lying around the house. Your host, Jon, is based in Cape Town, South Africa and his class is sure to be a hit with the whole family. You can check out even more of these virtual experiences here.
Featured photo by Halfpoint Images/Getty Images.
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